Trail Report: Hell’s Revenge [Utah]

October 16 2013

This trail was on my Moab Bucket List™ for a long time.  A few of the climbs look pretty crazy, the views amazing, and conquering the famed “Hell’s Gate” was one of the reasons I came to Moab.

The sign at the trailhead for Hell’s Revenge. Click it for the high res version if you want to read it.

After a quick air down at the parking lot of Hell’s Revenge Jesse, Melanie and I were on the trail by 8:30.

The trail climbs almost instantly right from the staging area.  In the first few minutes, you climb up onto a saddle, riding a narrow ridge – this is just a sample of what’s to come.  At the base of this, is a narrow sandy area called “Lake Michigan” due to the potential for high water.  It was wet on this day, but easily crossable.

The first ridge you will cross is immediately out of the parking lot.

The views open up into some pretty spectacular scenery.  The trail is predominantly on slickrock with some sandy spots.  The first couple of climbs will certainly get your heart rate going, especially when you see them in the distance – they look almost vertical.  With a little throttle control and some alertness, it is fine.

Some of the climbs are pretty steep. This is actually looking down at Jesse. I am waiting for him at the top of this climb!

After a couple of hours of trail, it opens up at the highest point. There are beautiful vistas of the desert below and the Colorado River.  This section feels like the midpoint of the entire trail.

The views of the Colorado River and the desert are amazing from this spot.

Shortly after this lookout is the entrance to the optional Hells Gate.  Hells Gate is an obstacle that has a pretty dicey descent, and a pretty technical climb.  The climb has a “V” shape to it and some very steep sections.  A lot of Jeeps actually tip over backwards if they do not take a good line.

At the base of Hell’s Gate.

Jesse and I walked the line, and I climbed it with only a close call – no matter how “passenger” I kept the Jeep (to ride the “V”) it sucked me down and into the “V.”  For a moment I thought I was a goner, but the Jeep settled and I made it the rest of the climb without incident.

Photo courtesy Bart Turecki.

After Hells Gate, we traversed more slickrock and climbs.  One section passes you between a small pine tree and a huge dropoff overlooking the “black hole.” It’s a pretty cool sight to be that high above the desert floor.

Climbs. More climbs. And descents too!

We made a quick stop for lunch in a beautiful vista near the two major potholes on the trail.  We took on the easier pot hole and left the legendary “Mickey’s Hot tub” for another day.  Click the image below to see raw video of me in the tub.

Video still of me heading into one of the pot holes.

We soon encountered the “Dragon’s Tail.”  This is a hair-raising drop so steep you cannot see the actual edge from inside the Jeep.  We had to get out and walk in front to see where the drop began.  There are painted marks on the slick rock.  Keep your tires between these marks to prevent rolling down the side.

The top of Dragon’s Tail. Look for the yellow lines painted on the rock.

A little further up the trail we pulled over and checked out the “Escalator.”  There is no way we could even walk up this let alone drive it.  I’d like some day to sit and watch others attempt it, but today it sits empty.

After bypassing the “Tipover Challenge” (for obvious reasons) we soon found our way back to the road and back to the house.

Want to see some video of this trail?  Watch the video here, automatically set to start on Hell’s Revenge.

Jesse above me, coming down one of the descents.





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